On Saturday morning, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty and state investigators recreated the scene of the 2012 police chase and shooting that killed two people at Heritage Middle School in East Cleveland. ideastream's Nick Castele reports.
McGinty examined two police cruisers and the Chevy Malibu that Timothy Russell was driving with Malissa Williams when he led Cleveland police officers on a lengthy car chase on Nov. 29, 2012. Police cornered Russell and Williams in the middle school parking lot and fired 137 gunshots at the pair, killing them both.
Prosecutor's office spokesman Joe Frolik revealed little about what McGinty hoped to uncover. But he said the recreation was part of the ongoing presentation to a county grand jury, which is weighing whether to indict officers who fired their guns that night.
"Its all part of our understanding of trying to figure out the events, so we can help the grand jurors…and the public understand what took place," Frolik told reporters at the scene.
Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association President Jeffrey Follmer also visited the middle school Saturday morning. He told reporters state and local authorities did a thorough investigation a year ago, and he questioned what more McGinty would learn.
"Doing this right now does not bring back the perception of the officers, what they had that night," Follmer said. "There's no lights and sirens, there's no gunshots, it's not dark. So I have no idea what we're doing here, or just making a media production."
The union has maintained that police believed Russell and Williams had a gun, and that Russell had tried to ram officers with his car before they opened fire.
After a detailed state investigation, Attorney General Mike DeWine said no gun was ever found in the car or along the chase route.
The shooting has troubled some groups representing greater Cleveland's African-American communities. Russell and Williams were black, and of the 13 officers who opened fire, 12 are white and one is Hispanic, according to the Cleveland police.
Alfred Porter Jr. with anti-violence group Black on Black Crime, Inc., visited the middle school Saturday morning to talk with reporters. He said the investigation has moved too slowly for his liking, but he was glad it seemed to be picking up speed.
"Families and others in the community cannot begin to rest and to focus on their lives until this is dealt with," Porter said. "When you have to wait for such a long period of time, you begin to wonder, does the system really work for you?"
It's unclear when the grand jury will reach a decision in the case.